Houston

We arrived in Houston and found a nice place to settle in for three nights.  After unloading the car and relaxing for a bit, we set out for a snick-snack at the Red Lion Pub, followed by dinner at Niko Niko’s.

I’ve not been to England, but the Red Lion Pub transported me across the pond and it was easy to imagine being in England.  As pubs go, this place is upscale for sure.  It’s spacious with lots of dark woods, leather, great ambiance, and bawdy artwork in the loos.

Red Lion Sliders

They we’re running a half price special on their cheeseburger sliders, so we didn’t have to give much thought to what we were going to eat.  I glanced over the rest of the menu, and you will find all the pub classics.  We drew a friendly waitress and she took good care of us.  The food was fabulous and tasted even better than it looks in the pictures.  Even though it was pub grub going out for half price, we could tell that the sliders were prepared with meticulous attention to detail (which means a lot to me).  The flavors were great, and they were succulent and hot.  It was much more than I was expecting, so we were delighted.  I was sorry that we couldn’t have tried more of the traditional fare, and if I had to venture a guess, I’d say that all the food is probably top notch.  There’s four sliders by the way.  The picture does not do the food justice, but it’s clever to put the fries over the top of the sliders and help keep them hot. Continue reading

Austin

We started our first day in Austin north of town at the Monument Cafe in Georgetown.  The first thing I noticed was how big the place is.  It has one of the biggest dining rooms I have ever seen, and was told the capacity is 242, all in one room.  The place is completely open, including the kitchen.  It’s Texas-sized.

We had a full day of stuffing our faces planned, so we decided to share one breakfast of Eggs Benedict.  That left room for us to sample a breakfast taco while we were at it.  Our waitress wasn’t personable at all and we never did get her name.  I suspect she was either preoccupied or just having a bad day.  She was pretty good about tending to our table and she did bring out our food, but she ordered it as a split plate for us (which we hadn’t asked for).  No big deal, other than trying to get a decent photo, but the hash browns got cold.  She jumped to the rescue and immediately brought us out a hot and satisfying plate full of GBD hash browns (which turned out to be the star of the show).  The hash browns hit all the right buttons… hot, crispy, crunchy, salty, creamy, and a deep flavor that can only come from cooking them old school.

Monument Cafe

Eggs Benedict at Monument Cafe

The Eggs Benedict were not quite as satisfying, but they were good.  I enjoyed mine more than Anna did hers.  I’m learning now that it’s easy to assemble an Eggs Benedict, but it’s hard to bring it all together as a cohesive luxurious dish.  I gave the dish a seven out of ten, and Anna gave it a five.  We were comparing notes on the way to the next place, and it was like we had two different orders of Eggs Benedict.  As I mentioned a while back, Hob Nob Hill in San Diego has really set the bar for Eggs Benedict done right, and we now have high expectations that we carry with us wherever we roam. Continue reading

San Antonio

We got a late start out of Las Cruces, but it was worth it visiting with some old friends.  We crossed into Texas and stopped in El Paso for some of the famed Chico’s Tacos (recommended by Aaron Sanchez).  We spend the whole rest of the day and into the night driving 80 miles an hour to make it to San Antonio.  It was an uneventful drive, and it sure was long.  With the time changes, we barely made it into Dough Pizzeria Napoletana before they closed.

The restaurant is good sized with a large dining room and an equally large patio out front.  The decor is muted, dark reddish colors, and not much in the way of artwork.  I suppose the emphasis is on the food and that’s not a bad thing.  The star attractions at Dough are the pizza oven and the Burrata Bar.  I had been telling Anna that as far as I could tell, this was one of the most authentic old world style Naples pizzerias in all of DDD.  As we walked in, we were greeted by none other than the Chef/owner himself, Doug, who greeted us and chatted with us for a few moments.

Dough Pizza

Pork Lover Pizza
at Dough Pizzeria Napoletana

We drew a friendly waitress named Tanya and she took great care of us.  We ordered the Pork Lover pizza which is a succulent creation of the famed pizza dough, San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh house pulled mozzarella, salami, house made sausage, pancetta and speck (smoked prosciutto).

As you might be able to tell from the picture, it was superb.  The crust was cooked to perfection with just the slightest bit of char.  The fresh mozzarella was creamy and provided a nice contrast for the spicy meats.  The sausage was scrumptious with great flavor and texture.  Overall, none of the meats were particularly spicy or hot, and if they were, the rocket-hot oven took care of that. Continue reading

Phoenix

We braved a trip deep into the hot desert and rolled into Phoenix.  After getting a room and unloading the car, we drove up to Thee Pitts Again.  In an area where most of the buildings look like ubiquitous corporate strip mall crap, Thee Pitts Again really stands out as an inviting destination.  It’s a bit garish, with lots of color, neon and stainless steel; but you have to appreciate that it’s bold in its appeal.  The inside matches the outside with lots of comfortable booths, tying in with the old-style diner vibe.  I have to warn you, if you’re averse to the color pink, you might have to shield your eyes a little as you take it all in.  There’s enough pink on the walls to make Pinky Tuscadero envious.  I asked about the pink and was told that it is their pig theme.  I should also warn you, if you like twangy country music, you’ll love this place.  (Note: We stopped by Alice Cooperstown later that night and I got enough rock and roll into my ears to repair the disturbance in the force.)

Thee Pitts Again

Combo Platter at Thee Pitts Again

We drew a waitress named Tammy and she took good care of us.  She was warm and friendly, which is just how we like our servers.  We were a little frazzled from the long hot drive, and needed the TLC.  We ordered a 3/2 (three meats/two sides) of pulled pork, brisket, chop, and the sides of baked beans and mashed potatoes & gravy.  The meal includes corn bread with honey butter.  On balance, it was a satisfying meal at a good price.  Good portions, good value.  My favorite meat was the chop; which is a blend of beef, pork and ham, chopped up and cooked together in BBQ sauce.  It was very rich, and would probably make a killer sandwich.  Anna liked the pulled pork the best, and it was excellent (although I’m not a big fan of pulled pork).  The brisket was fair.  We both thought the baked beans were scrumptious and the mashed potatoes were piping hot. Continue reading

Las Vegas (2)

We’ve driven to Las Vegas more times than I care to remember, but on this trip we had six new DDD places to check out.  A real treat.

Mixed Grill at Forte

Mixed Grill at Forte

We first headed to Forte European Tapas Bar & Bistro.  We were way too early for dinner and so we didn’t have to wait for a table.  The décor inside has to be seen to be believed.  It was very colorful yet elegant.  Our server, Denitza, took great care of us; and we got to meet the owner, Nina Manchev.  If you haven’t seen the DDD segment, I don’t want to spoil it for you.  If you have seen it, then you’ll understand all the fun things we had to talk to Nina about, not the least of which is the great food.  Nina is talented, sharp, warm and gracious.  She posed for a picture with Anna but sadly it did not turn out.

Stroganoff at Forte

Beef Stroganoff at Forte

We ordered the mixed grill plate that was made on the show, as well as an order of beef stroganoff.  We were first served an irresistible basked of bread called Lepina.  The rest of the food came out promptly and it was a delight.  All three sausages were great, and our favorite was the Kebabche (the one in the foreground).  The salad, slaw, and sauce made for a fun variety of tasting sensations.  The stroganoff was the best I can ever remember having in a restaurant (note it was more of a tapas portion than an entrée portion).  Between the two dishes, the bread, the great service and lovely atmosphere, Forte was a big hit with us and it gets our highest recommendation.  It’s a little off the strip, but well worth the short trip. Continue reading